Monday, 10 June 2013

A simple public choice theory of universal surveillance

Tyler Cowen posits an interesting theory on how universal surveillance may be threatened:

Let’s say that everything is known about everybody, or can be known with some effort. The people who have the most to lose are powerful people who have committed some wrongdoing, or who have done something which can be presented as wrongdoing, whether or not it is. Derelicts with poor credit ratings should, in relative terms, flourish or at least hold steady at the margin.

It is not obvious that the President, Congress, and Supreme Court should welcome such an arrangement. Nor should top business elites. More power is given to the NSA, or to those who can access NSA and related sources, and how many interest groups favor that?

Therein lies a chance for reform.

A project the size of PRISM requires the knowledge and labour input of many people. I'm surprised that there isn't more whistle blowing. Surely there are more people than one new hire from a consulting firm who know what is happening, hate what is happening, and want to reveal what is happening.